Easter Devotions

The Gift of Joy and Never See Death

Easter Devotions
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Jesus knew the purpose for his life on earth. He endured the cross with that purpose in mind. Learn by Christ's example and discover the joy-filled purpose of your life.

Easter Devotion: The Gift of Joy

Whenever Easter approaches, we find ourselves thinking about the death and resurrection of Jesus. The purpose of Christ's life was to offer himself as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind.

The Bible says that Jesus Christ became sin for us so that we could be forgiven and found righteous in God’s sight (2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus was so certain of his purpose that he predicted when and how he would die (Matthew 26:2).

As followers of Jesus, what is our purpose?

Some would answer that our purpose is to love God. Others might say that it is to serve God. The Westminster Shorter Catechism states that man’s chief purpose is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.

While considering these ideas, Hebrews 12:2 comes to mind: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (NIV)

Jesus looked beyond the suffering, shame, punishment, and death. Christ knew the joy that was yet to come, so he focused on the future.

What is this joy that motivated him?

The Bible says that there is great joy in heaven whenever a sinner repents (Luke 15:10). Likewise, the Lord rewards good works. There is joy in hearing him say, “Well done good and faithful servant.” This means Jesus anticipated the joy that would take place when each person would repent and be saved. He also looked forward to the joy that would result from each good work done by believers in obedience to God and motivated by love.

The Bible says that we love God because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). Ephesians 2:1-10 tells us that by nature we are rebellious towards God and are born spiritually dead. It is by his love and grace that he brings us to faith and reconciliation. God has even planned our good works (Ephesians 2:10).

What then is our purpose?

To give God joy! What a wonderful God we have who honors sinners like us by allowing us to give him pleasure. Our Father rejoices and experiences joy as we respond to him in repentance, love, and good works that bring him glory.

Give Jesus the gift of joy. That is your purpose, and he is looking forward to it.

Easter Devotion: Never See Death

Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death. (NIV)

Jesus Christ made some bold statements but claiming that his followers would never see death had to be close to the top of the list.

Two religious groups who held power in ancient Israel watched Jesus like hawks, hoping he would say something they could pounce on. The Pharisees did believe in eternal life and resurrection of the dead. The Sadducees did not. But for Jesus to say he had power to grant eternal life to whomever he wanted meant only one thing: He was God.

That drove the Pharisees wild with anger. They considered such a statement blasphemy. It wasn’t long before they conspired to kill Jesus, and their scheme proved successful. Until Easter morning, that is.

Jesus rose from the dead.

What Jesus had prophesied about himself came true. After three days in the tomb, he rose from the dead. Hundreds of eyewitnesses in Jerusalem saw him in a real, physical body. They touched him. They watched him eat food. Only one conclusion was possible. Jesus was, in fact, God, just as he had claimed.

Sometime later, an event happened that shook the early church. A young deacon named Stephen went before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council, to make a passionate defense of Jesus as the Savior. His words so inflamed the people that they dragged Stephen outside the city and stoned him to death.

Stephen had been a follower of Jesus and now his unmoving body lay on the ground covered with bloody wounds. Contrary to Jesus’ promise, Stephen was quite dead.

Or was he?

The answer is found in the Bible. Scripture tells us when a believer dies, their spirit lives on. Their body goes into the grave, but their soul continues to live in either heaven or hell. What’s more, Jesus promised that someday the believer’s spirit will be reunited with their resurrected physical body, glorified in nature, never to die again. What happened to Jesus will happen to you and me.

It’s hard to grasp. Other religions may promise eternal life, but no other religious leader did what Jesus Christ did: rise from the dead. Jesus is God, and his promises are true. Someday each of us will die—and yet we will live, if we believe in Christ as Savior.

For the Christian, death is the door to new life.

That new life is not earned through our works. Besides having a founder who is still alive, Christianity differs from other religions in a second crucial way. Only Christianity has grace, the free gift from God that brings us eternal life. It does not depend on us or our works. It depends on Jesus. Period. Christ paid the penalty for our sins, satisfied God the Father’s need for holy justice, and bought our places in heaven with his blood.

None of us wants to die. We don’t want to fade into nothingness like a wisp of smoke. But is there a catch? Is obeying this “word” of Jesus impossible? No. Jesus’ “word” is very simple: We must believe in him as Savior. That’s all it takes, and God even gives us the gift of faith to accomplish that.

Many people believe they can somehow get into heaven without having anything to do with God. Their misconception is that all it takes is being a good person. But the God who created heaven, and therefore gets to make the rules, says you can get there only through his Son Jesus.

The path God provides doesn’t take a lifetime of struggle, but it does demand dependence on Jesus and Jesus alone. In heaven, there is only one God. In hell, there are many gods, and each one is called Myself.

The bottom line?

Eternal life after death is a fact. But where you spend it is up to you. Choose Jesus and go to heaven. Reject him and go to hell. God sends no one to hell. They choose it themselves.

Our body will die, but our spirit, the real essence of who we are, will never see death. The Bible teaches that someday we will have a glorified body and will enjoy God in heaven forever. Christ defeated death as proof that we, too, will live.